NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, September 16th, 2023

Sound Transit opens Hilltop Link extension to riders on sun-filled Saturday in Tacoma

Twen­ty years ago, Sound Tran­sit wel­comed rid­ers onboard the first street­car sys­tem to be built any­where in its urban tri-coun­ty juris­dic­tion: Taco­ma Link.

Today, in the City of Des­tiny, that pio­neer­ing street­car line final­ly dou­bled in length with the debut of rev­enue ser­vice on the Hill­top Link extension.

ST cel­e­brat­ed the rib­bon-cut­ting with an hour­long pro­gram next to the Hill­top Dis­trict sta­tion that includ­ed per­for­mances by TUPAC dancers and NW Sin­foni­et­ta. Speak­ers includ­ed Sound Tran­sit CEO Julie Timm, Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mar­i­lyn Strick­land, Taco­ma May­or Vic­to­ria Wood­wards, and Deputy May­or Kristi­na Walk­er, an ST boardmember.

The sev­en new sta­tions make the T‑Line (the new name for Taco­ma Link) a much more ver­sa­tile sys­tem that pro­vides con­nec­tiv­i­ty between more places in the city. That was evi­dent to those of us who joined Sound Tran­sit staff on Wednes­day for an enjoy­able and infor­ma­tive pre­view ride along the entire align­ment.

“The Hill­top exten­sion is a major step toward cre­at­ing a more con­nect­ed Taco­ma and region as we con­tin­ue expand­ing our tran­sit net­work,” said Sound Tran­sit Board Chair and King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine in a state­ment. “With this open­ing, rid­ers will have even greater access to oppor­tu­ni­ties and the com­mu­ni­ties con­nect­ed by this new service.”

“Taco­ma and the Hill­top neigh­bor­hood is on the rise,” Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell said. “This is life-chang­ing to an area where 27% of house­holds don’t own a car.”

“If you are a stu­dent at Sta­di­um High, or SOTA, or Ever­green, now you have anoth­er way to get to school. If you have an appoint­ment at Taco­ma Gen­er­al or St. Joe’s, you also have an eas­i­er way to get there. If you want to take your fam­i­ly to the sta­di­um dis­trict, or down to Wright Park, or just have din­ner in Hill­top or down­town — you now can take the T‑line.”

Cantwell’s office point­ed out that she “helped secure $183.3 mil­lion in fed­er­al fund­ing for the project, includ­ing $93.3 mil­lion in loans from the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOT) Trans­porta­tion Infra­struc­ture Finance and Inno­va­tion Act (TIFIA) pro­gram, and $75 mil­lion from the Cap­i­tal Invest­ment Grant (CIG) pro­gram. Fed­er­al fund­ing cov­ered over 64% of the total project cost.”

“Con­nect­ing our his­toric Sta­di­um Dis­trict, Wright Park, med­ical facil­i­ties down­town, and the Taco­ma Dome, to the rest of our city and the broad­er region, these light rail sta­tions rep­re­sent our ongo­ing com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­i­ty, equi­ty, access and mobil­i­ty for all,” said Sound Tran­sit Board Mem­ber and Taco­ma Deputy May­or Kristi­na Walk­er. “Today is a big day for Tacoma.”

Sound Tran­sit staff timed the rib­bon cut­ting to occur just as the first train slat­ed to car­ry pas­sen­gers rolled into the Hill­top Dis­trict Sta­tion from St. Joseph.

Videos of the fes­tiv­i­ties are below for those who could­n’t make it and would like to watch the speak­ing pro­gram or take in the expand­ed T‑Line.

The ribbon cutting

Watch the rib­bon cutting:

Aerial view of trains rolling through Hilltop

Get a bird’s eye glimpse of the T‑Line in service:

The performances

Watch TUPAC dancers and NW Sin­foni­et­ta perform:

The speaking program

View the com­plete speak­ing program:

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Sound Tran­sit on today’s big mile­stone! It was a long jour­ney from the ground­break­ing to today’s rib­bon cut­ting, but we got there.

How to ride the T‑Line

The T‑Line is oper­a­tional sev­en days a week. At peak times, it arrives at twelve minute fre­quen­cies (Sound Tran­sit promised ten minute peak fre­quen­cies, but con­clud­ed it could­n’t safe­ly or fea­si­bly deliv­er those at launch). Fre­quen­cies drop to every twen­ty min­utes pri­or to 6:30 AM and after 8 PM on week­days, but stay at twelve min­utes for all week­end ser­vice. The T‑Line runs for about sev­en­teen hours on week­days, fif­teen hours on Sat­ur­days, and nine hours on Sundays.

While the T‑Line has his­tor­i­cal­ly been fare-free, that is no longer the case.

One-way fares are $2.00, regard­less of dis­tance trav­eled. Rid­ers will have the best expe­ri­ence with an ORCA card. Those on low incomes are encour­aged to apply for an ORCA LIFT card, which cuts the price of every ride in half.

Rid­ing the T‑Line is sim­ple: Head to any of its twelve sta­tions, tap your ORCA card or buy a tick­et from a kiosk, and walk on the train. Then, step off when you’ve reached your des­ti­na­tion. All plat­forms have low floor board­ing. Elec­tron­ic sig­nage and audio announce­ments on the train are pro­vid­ed to help with wayfinding.

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation

    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local politics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for money.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy journalism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time donation

Submit a Comment

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our Commenting Guidelines. If you submit any links to other websites in your comment or in the Website field, these will be published at our discretion. Please read our statement of Privacy Practices before commenting to understand how we collect and use submissions to the Cascadia Advocate. Your comment must be submitted with a name and email address as noted below. We will not publish or share your email address. *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  • NPI’s essential research and advocacy is sponsored by: